Rajinikanth, one of India’s greatest and biggest superstars, remains nonchalant about all the hype surrounding him. As he turns 63 today, we find out more about the legend of Rajinikanth which shows no signs of fading away from memories of millions of his fans.
There are several theories behind what makes Rajinikanth such a charismatic, larger than life actor who has been ruling Kollywood for over three decades. But none of them truly explain why every word he says or everytime he appears onscreen sends millions of his fans into a delirious frenzy. To decode the Rajini phenomenon Grady Hendrix, a writer at slate.com, once wrote, “If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth.” While none of this is true, what we can absolutely be sure is of his simplicity off-screen coupled with his uber cool persona on screen which has been meticulously moulded by directors like K Balachander, SP Muthuraman, Suresh Krishna and KS Ravikumar. A lot of people who are not well versed with Tamil cinema can’t figure out why people are mad about him. The answer might lie in his rags to riches story which is quite similar to most of the plots of his films.
Born in a Maratha family on December 12, 1950, Rajinikanth’s original name was Shivaji Rao Gaikwad. At one point of time, he even worked as a bus conductor in Bangalore before he moved to Chennai where he was spotted by K Balachander. “Over the years, Rajini has built a mass fan base because he has stuck to his larger than life image. His punch lines and stylish dialogue delivery worked big time,” Sreedhar Pillar, a senior film journalist, says. Then there are legends about him which are passed on for generations. In 1992, one day, his car was stopped by the policemen to let then chief minister Jayalalithaa pass through. Rajinikanth stepped out of his car and within seconds thousands of people gathered to cheer for him. Jayalalitha couldn’t even come out of her house which forced the policemen to plead him to drive away. Such was his popularity. No other actor since MGR and Sivaji Ganesan has enjoyed such massive fan following. What is the most endearing aspect of Rajinikanth which sets him apart? Anantha, an ardent fan of Rajinikanth, says, “I think a lot of it is because of the style, particularly for those who grew up watching him in the 80s. The others before him, the Sivajis and the MGRs did heroic roles, but Rajini did the alpha male roles much better than the others. He’s also a much better comedian than MGR or Sivaji.”
In mid 90s, rumours were rife that he might join politics. While he has kept people guessing about his entry into politics, the actor is showing no signs of giving up his acting career. Last year, he underwent a major surgery and after recuperating he acted in his daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth’s directorial debut film Kochadiyaan. So what keeps his going? He’s most likely to say, with a smile on his face, “It’s all God’s will.” Amen!
About the Author (Author Profile)
Hemanth writes primarily about Telugu cinema, although he finds inspiration from the works of filmmakers like Woody Allen. Apart from writing, he spends most of his time on Twitter discussing about cinema, travel and life in Hyderabad.